• View of Square Tower House, seen along the Mesa Top Loop

    Mesa Verde

    National Park Colorado

Artifact Gallery -- Wall Painting

View of wall painting in Cliff Palace tower
Wall Painting

Much like we paint and plaster our own houses today, Ancestral Puebloans used layers of colorful plaster to decorate their walls, inside and out. Designs were often painted on with a fibrous brush or with fingers using paint made from a combination of colored pigments and dilutants/binders such as water, oils, and occasionally, urine. Keep in mind that water was scarce in this arid climate.

This painting, found inside a room at Cliff Palace, includes triangles possibly representing mountains, and geometrical designs common to Ancestral Puebloan art. Here is a challenge – do some research and form your own theories about what these designs might represent. Remember, no one knows for sure.

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Did You Know?

Cliff Palace in the snow

Cliff Palace is the largest cliff dwelling at Mesa Verde National Park. It has 150 rooms, plus an additional 75 open areas. Twenty-one of the rooms are kivas, and 25 to 30 rooms have residential features. The number of Ancestral Puebloans living in Cliff Palace at any one time was 100 to 120.